March with AIFL at the Celebrate Israel Parade, NY
March with your friends from AIFL
Celebrate Israel Day Parade
DATE: June 2nd, 2013
LOCATION: 54 and Madison, New York
MORE: AIFL Marchers will meet on the corner of 54 and Madison.
John Hagee: CUFI Doesn't Take Sides in Israel Peace Process
Behind me, in the reporter's "pit," two Israeli journalists spoke to each other in Hebrew. Two seconds before, Irving Roth, addressing the jammed ballroom, shared his chilling story as a Holocaust survivor. A mere three years after American G.I.s entered his building at Buchenwald, Roth recalled, "The Jews had a home."
It is all a miracle.
This year's Christians United for Israel Washington Summit is buzzing with excitement at the Washington Convention Center. The Summit wraps up Wednesday when attendees fan out all over Capitol Hill, to discuss their support for Israel with their elected officials. The largest pro-Israel organization in the world, CUFI is the brainchild of Pastor John Hagee, who has emerged as the most prominent Christian spokesman for the Jewish state.
Hagee addressed the plenary session on Monday, then turned the podium to Roth, director of the Holocaust Resource Center at Temple Judea in Manhasset, N.Y. In a remarkable snapshot that has come to be a hallmark of a renewed Jewish-Christian relationship, Roth said with emotion:
"God has sent CUFI to the Jewish people."
Thunderous and sustained applause.
David Brog, CUFI's executive director, is pleased with the growth the group has seen in the last year.
"Since our last Summit, CUFI has had enormous success," he said. "In March we welcomed our millionth member, and throughout the year we have held an average of 40 pro-Israel events each month in cities and towns across the country."
The group has ambitious goals as well in the coming year, including "CUFI on Campus" initiative. The effort is especially timely, given the waves of anti-Semitism now being seen on American college campuses.
One room at the convention center houses the campus exhibit; visitors are greeted at the outset by a scale-model of the so-called "Apartheid Walls," which are popping up on campuses. These models are filled with pro-Palestinian graffiti. The intent is to promote Palestinian propaganda (such as the allegation that Israel's security fence encircles Bethlehem; it doesn't).
Elsewhere, there are TV monitors that present both pro-Palestinian activists and pro-Israel activists. CUFI's efforts are focused on the mushrooming campus chapters.
Tres Wittum, from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, is just one of the passionate students impacted by CUFI's efforts:
"CUFI on Campus gave me not only a passion for the political world, but a mission as well. The D.C. Summit opened my eyes to the fight that's going on for our generation and for support of Israel, a fight I believe is only going to get harder in the years to come."
CUFI, as with any large organization, deals with controversy that comes its way. Among the myths surrounding the group is that this grass-roots campaign opposes a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In fact, CUFI doesn't have a position on this issue.
"From our founding [in 2006]," Hagge said, "We decided that CUFI would never presume to tell Jerusalem how to conduct its foreign or domestic affairs." In short, CUFI doesn't take sides in the peace process.
Present at the event were a wide range of pro-Israel activists, from CUFI's Eastern Regional Coordinator Victor Styrsk, to William Harter, a member of the executive committee for the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI). Harter, a Presbyterian, is active in opposing the BDS Movement (boycott/divestment/sanctions), which seeks to marginalize Israel.
"What is going on here is critical, and we have no time to waste," Harter said. Milling all around him are CUFI members, who have come from coast-to-coast to voice support for Jews.
On Monday night, a new documentary was screened for the audience. Follow Me, which details the life of Israeli commando Jonathan Netanyahu (oldest brother of Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu), was shown on site.
Sandy to Gaza rockets, students weather each other's storms
Reprinted from JNS.org
From Sandy to Gaza rockets, students weather each other's storms
By Maxine Dovere/JNS.org
NEW YORK-Between Israeli youths going through Hurricane Sandy and American youths experiencing the onslaught of rockets from Gaza, participants of November's America Israel Friendship League's (AIFL) student exchange rode an emotional and historic rollercoaster on both sides of the Atlantic.
Twenty-eight American high school students-members of the AIFL-sponsored Youth Ambassadors Student Exchange (YASE)-returned from Israel Nov. 19 after having witnessed Operation Pillar of Defense, and the rocket fire that prompted it, firsthand.
"I saw a bomb shelter for the first time and heard the 'boom' of an Israeli missile as it intercepted a Palestinian attack while we were at the school Hakfar Hayarok just outside of Tel Aviv," Katy Hall, an 18-year-old senior at Bethany High School in Yukon, Okla., told JNS.org during her group's layover in New York's John F. Kennedy airport on the way home to Oklahoma.
Earlier in the month, the Americans' 22 Israeli counterparts in the U.S. just prior to the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, spending their first week as guests of host families in Oklahoma, Virginia Beach, and New York. The New York-based group experienced the unprecedented events of one of history's worst natural disasters. At the beginning of week two, the entire group met in Washington, D.C., for an intense four-day learning program, and then traveled together to New York City.
YASE, a 30-year-old student exchange program that focuses on bi-national cooperation, education, and cultural understanding. YASE is the only public high school exchange between Israel and the U.S., and works in partnership with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the American Association of School Administrators and the Israel Youth Exchange Council.
Following their New York schedule, the entire YASE contingent of 50 (between the American and the Israelis) flew to Israel, arriving in Tel Aviv on Nov. 8, and was welcomed into the homes of their Israeli host families. The Israeli group from Rishon LeZion who had experienced "Sandy" directly took their New York peers home.
Then came Operation Pillar of Defense, the Israel Defense Forces action intended to stop the rockets being fired from Gaza. "The first priority was to assure the safety and security of every participant," AIFL Chairman Kenneth Bialkin told JNS.org while the American students were still in Israel. "Everyone is safe, everyone, is eager to stay for the full program. These are exceptional young people, exhibiting the highest ideals of friendship."
The American students included delegates from many ethnic and religious backgrounds-African American, Chinese, East Indian Pakistani, Albanian and others. They were Christians (including an Egyptian Coptic student), Muslims, Hindus, and Jews. Everyone was in contact with his or her parents. During the course of the intense program, the students formed strong bonds with their Israeli peers and developed a strong sense of belonging. The annual YASE program follows a meticulously planned curriculum comprised of academic, cultural and community activities and experiences throughout both the American and Israeli segments. When the Israeli contingent to New York-students mostly from Rishon LeZion, chaperoned by Sigal Greenfeld Mittelman- arrived there York just days before Sandy, they had no idea what awaited them.
"Sandy created a really awful situation," Mittelman told JNS.org. "I had to keep the kids calm and assure their safety-especially without electricity." Their parents in Israel were worried, and because there was no phone service for days, could not contact their children. Email and Skype helped Mittelman keep parents 6,000 miles away as calm as possible.
The American students scheduled to be in Rishon LeZion weathered a different kind of storm. It was the same New York contingent that had hosted their peers from Rishon LeZion during Sandy. They had to be moved from Rishon LeZion to the Israeli Ministry of Education-run boarding school of Hakfar Hayarok.
"All the American kids were in constant contact with their parents," Cassia Anthony, program director of AIFL, told JNS.org. Every attempt was made to maintain the students' original schedule, although the base was moved from Tel Aviv to Haifa. The students were able to visit schools, the Baha'i Shrine and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. But due to the rockets, the American students returned to the U.S. Nov. 19, curtailing their program by two days.
Dr. Charlotte K. Frank, Chairman of the Executive Committee of AIFL and the initiator of the YASE program, praised the forbearance of the student ambassadors. "The way these kids have responded is a miracle," she told JNS.org. "The students survived an unprecedented encounter with Hurricane Sandy in New York lived through another 'storm'-this time, of rockets and Israeli resilience. Their amazing experiences on opposite sides of the world will give then an even greater depth of understanding."
"These young men and woman learned to live together, to survive together and to grow with their experiences," Frank added. Michele Ayers, a teacher at Oklahoma's Bethany High School and a chaperon for the nine students from that school who participated in YASE, told JNS.org from Kennedy Airport on Monday that the students "felt very safe in Israel." Ayers described the city of Yukon, where Bethany High is based, as "a very conservative Protestant community." She called the YASE trip "such a growing opportunity for the kids."
"To be immersed in the Jewish and Israeli culture and learn so much about the Jewish people was amazing... Being in Israel was a great learning experience-though perhaps not at the best time," she said. The students' Israeli host families "knew exactly what to do," and were "like having family from a half a world away," Ayers said.
Though the students were not alarmed, Ayers said she understood why the students had to return from Israel, when rockets began to fall as far north as the suburbs of Tel Aviv.
Hall, the Bethany High senior, said the Israel experience widened her understanding of her own beliefs.
"God is so alive here," she told JNS.org. "The Jewish people are His chosen people. Being in Israel is so surreal, so beautiful." "The news doesn't tell the true story of Israel," Hall added.
"There's a part of my heart that remains in Israel," Ayers said. "I'll never be the same."
Ayers said the Bethany High delegation is "going to go back" to Israel, but even if they don't return, the Jewish state clearly left an impression on them that won't fade anytime soon.
Harris Vederman Introduction
Dear AIFL Supporters,
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you as the new Executive Director of the America-Israel Friendship League.
I accepted this position because I believe in the AIFL's mission of making friends for Israel here in the United States. The AIFL achieves this goal through our outreach programs which include our highly respected Youth Ambassador Student Exchange (YASE), our annual AIFL "Israel day at the NYSE", and our National Association of Attorneys Generals Israel delegation to highlight a few.
As a dedicated AIFL supporter, you provide us the necessary resources to execute these important programs which strengthen the America-Israel relationship on many different levels.
I plan to keep you informed of our accomplishments through email updates, on our website at AIFL.org, on Facebook where you can "like" the America-Israel Friendship League and on Twitter where you can follow us at @The_AIFL.
My wife Carol, our daughters Cecelia and Adeline are very excited to become a part of the AIFL family.
Please click here to see the 2013 Spring AIFL newsletter.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
AIFL Executive Director
The AIFL Supports the People of Oklahoma
We would like to encourage you to help support those affected by the tornado. Please click to donate to: American Red Cross